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For the week of November 8 through 14, 2000

Council adopts height regs

Design ordinance still in the works

Express Staff Writer

New homes and commercial buildings in Ketchum must now conform to stricter height guidelines, unanimously adopted by the Ketchum City Council on Monday night.

The council adopted the revisions following a summer of public hearings at the planning and zoning commission and council levels. Monday night’s public hearing was the council’s third reading of the ordinance.

The revised regulations are designed to fill a loophole in the ordinance that allowed large facades to be built on homes in hillside areas.

Prior to the revisions, the ordinance allowed buildings to be measured from a site’s grade prior to excavation work. Construction of a home on Knob Hill, which includes a 59-foot facade, prompted the city to look into the issue this spring.

The ordinance now defines existing, finished and natural grades, and requires that a building’s height be measured from whichever is lowest.

Residential building homes will now be limited to 35-foot facades.


Separately, the city council began reviewing the unadopted half of the city’s revised draft of new downtown zoning regulations. The second half of the regulations, referred to by city officials as .020 after the ordinance’s number in the city’s code, consists of subjective criteria used to guide architects and developers designing buildings.

View corridors, pedestrian amenities, building construction materials and the contexts into which buildings will fit are addressed in .020.

The first half of the downtown zoning regulations, called .010, set criteria pertaining to building height and mass. With the exception of a section dealing with permitted building size bonuses, they were adopted last month.

The language in .020 needs to be tightened, council members agreed at the outset of the discussion.

Words like "should" need to be changed to "shall," they said.

"It seems to me the whole thing is vague and wishy washy, because of the shoulds," Councilwoman Chris Potters said. "The development community has been asking for some specifics, and this is all wishy washy."

The council directed the city’s planning staff to tighten that language, but to add a statement to the ordinance allowing developers to obtain variances to the subjective criteria under special circumstances.

The council did not vote on the ordinance, but continued the public hearing to 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Council members said they expect the public hearing to be continued yet again to the council’s regular meeting Nov. 20.

Council members said they also plan during that meeting to begin discussions on floor area ratio bonuses given to developers who provide affordable housing as part of their developments.

Floor area ratios are a building’s floor area divided by its lot size and are a common tool planners use to determine a building’s perceived bulk.

The bonuses are the only remaining portion of .010 the council must clear up.

At the Tuesday morning meeting, discussions will resume on the "Useable Open Space" section of the ordinance.


The council also scheduled further considerations of the city’s pending draft comprehensive plan. Discussions on the plan will resume at a meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 22, at 9:30 a.m. with the affordable housing section of the draft plan.

Ketchum planning administrator Lisa Horowitz said the city hopes to adopt a final plan by the beginning of the new year.


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